Lester’s gem leads reeling Red Sox past Giants
SAN FRANCISCO – Victor Martinez made it three key injuries in three days for the Red Sox.
Boy, it’s no wonder Boston wanted to race out of the Bay Area and back to Beantown.
Jon Lester pitched a five-hitter, David Ortiz splashed a home run into McCovey Cove and banged-up Boston beat Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants 5-1 Sunday.
The Red Sox finished up a rocky, six-game road trip that included the injuries and lots of lineup shuffling. The latest: losing their catcher to a broken left thumb Sunday after a couple of foul tips. Martinez underwent an X-ray that revealed the fracture and was set to be examined again Monday.
“We definitely want to get out of here,” the three-time All-Star Martinez said.
Lester (9-3) gave Boston a big boost a day after the Red Sox relied on relievers for all but one inning because starter Clay Buchholz hyperextended his left knee. The day before, second baseman Dustin Pedroia broke his left foot.
“We needed that,” manager Terry Francona said. “We talked before the game about being a little beat up but when your pitching is not, you always give yourself a chance.”
Lester put the Red Sox ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the second inning. Adrian Beltre also homered and Marco Scutaro and Bill Hall each hit RBI singles as Boston took the series.
Lester struck out nine and walked one.
Lincecum (8-3), the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, was done after a season-low three innings having already thrown 79 pitches. He had a three-start winning streak snapped.
Manager Bruce Bochy insists his ace isn’t hurt, he was just off.
“Things just weren’t coming out like I wanted them to,” Lincecum said. “I’ve gotten a little better at not necessarily accepting it but understanding these types of outings. I just felt like I was a robot out there.”
Hall, filling in while Pedroia is sidelined for what is likely a significant period, also doubled and scored a run.
J.D. Drew tripled off the wall in right leading off the sixth, a positive sign for the Red Sox as the right fielder returned to the starting lineup for the first time since leaving a June 18 game with a strained right hamstring.
Lester’s career-high eight-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday at Colorado but he was on from the start in this one. He got a nice early lift from Big Papi’s bat, then rolled. Lester retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced in order, including the last 10 in an efficient 103-pitch performance. He pitched his sixth career complete game and second of 2010.
He knew the importance of giving the bullpen a break considering the team’s fortunes of late.
“It’s kind of a bad patch we’ve got going right now,” he said. “We’ll get guys to fill in spots that need to be filled in and we’ll keep battling as we have been all year. We’re going to fight. We’re not just going to lay down and let everybody beat us up.”
Ortiz’s home run ball was quickly snatched up by a kayaker in San Francisco Bay.
It was the 72nd time a homer reached the water at 11-year-old AT&T Park and the 20th by an opponent. Arizona’s Miguel Montero was the last to do so on Sept. 29, 2009.
Home run king Barry Bonds has 35 of them. Aubrey Huff, who drove in San Francisco’s run on a groundout, has two splash-hit homers this season.
Ortiz, playing first base for the fourth time this season and first start of the series, was called out on strikes in his next at-bat and he had an earful for home plate umpire Mike DiMuro afterward.
Lincecum was trying to finish an unbeaten June after allowing only four earned runs over 22 innings for a 1.64 ERA in winning his previous three starts. He allowed that many alone in his three innings Sunday, giving up five hits, striking out four and walking one.
“He didn’t have it,” Bochy said.
Beat-up Boston’s off-days on Monday and Thursday sure will come at a good time.
Mike Cameron was off for the Red Sox a day after hitting his first homer of the year and making a clutch late-game catch at the wall in center. He missed 34 games from April 20 to May 24 with a lower abdominal strain. Cameron had hoped to play Sunday but told Francona in the morning he was sore.
“We appreciated his honesty,” Francona said. “We’re going to have to use some caution with him.”
San Francisco rookie Buster Posey went 0 for 4 in his first career game in the cleanup spot.
NOTES: Lincecum threw only 44 strikes. … The Red Sox have some flexibility with the off-days to push back Buchholz, who arrived at the ballpark feeling pretty good a day after leaving his start after only one inning because of the knee he hurt while running the bases after a second-inning single. … RHP John Lackey, Boston’s Tuesday starter, enjoyed his rare pinch-hit appearance Saturday – a groundout. He thought he might be called upon to bunt, but not actually swing. “It was fun,” Lackey said. “That’s probably the first and last time.”
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